Your ugly mug

Flip, flip, flip. Another, another, another. He idly paged through the book, face after face, like Tinder or Grindr, but not really, because Tinder and Grindr were like this. Oh books, how you’ve been the constant champion by which all media was measured. Where does the book go? Would he only find them in second hand stores 10 years from now like his parents LPs, only to be resurrected by mustachioed nostalgia for analog? Will they be dug up in 20 or 50 years after the world falls into anarchy and there is no one around to open that document stored on your proprietary storage device? How will we know Margaret’s last wishes, written in that note pad program on her now defunct operating system?  How will we-

“Are you actually looking at these?”

Hans looked up. The officer on the other side of the desk looked bored. Well no shit, he was bored too.

“Of course.” he lied.

As he started actually paying attention again, his eyes scanning the pictures, probably snapshots of immortalizing people at their worst. Weirdo, weirdo, weirdo. Hans considered that maybe he should make a website for people that have their mugshots on public display, where they could upload another photo when they have their shit together, like

  • myshowerhadnotworkedfor2daysbecausemylandlordisanassthatiswhyipunchedhim.com
  • cocainisahellofadrugbutigotbetter.net
  • moviestarsnevergetarrestedonbadhairdaysexceptgarybusey.org

These would allow people that second chance that seems so hard to come by when your not-so-tasteful side boob goes global.

How many pages had gone by without him paying attention… two? Three?  Let’s see, three pictures in a row, four rows on a page, probably thirty to forty five. This was ridiculous, he though, so he decided to share it with a public employee.

“Why don’t you have a computer for this stuff? I mean there is a computer right there on the desk.” He then motioned with his head, just so everyone knew exactly which computer on the desk he meant.

Hans was bad with names. He squinted at the name badge… Officer… it was hard to make out, Smyth? No one had that name anymore. Jenkins? Wow he was way off.

“Yeah, you just worry about you. Listen, can I step out and get a cup of coffee and trust you to actually look through that mug book?” Jenkins picked up his coffee mug. Clear County Sheriff it said. Did that mean he wasn’t an officer? Should he call him deputy?  May he was the sheriff. A Sheriff? An Sheriff?

“Oh, coffee?” Hans chimed, hopeful, “what kind is it?”

“The hot kind.”

“Oh.” Hans made a grimace.

“You wanna cup?”

“…no.” Hans replied. He didn’t.

Maybe if he could remember anything about the face of the guy that had hit him on the head and taken is stylish Ona “The Brixton®” messenger bag this wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. GOD HE LOVED THAT BAG. Not that it contained anything useful, but it had been sweet. That perfect manufactured look that said, “This was hand forged by hairy men with leather aprons with re-purposed materials, then passed down over generations of hard won, socially responsible and eco-friendly usage.” Hans was sure this would tell women that he was a writer, or perhaps a photographer for a NPO and that they would then ask about his travels, muses and have sex with him. He’d been experimenting with strategic camera shaped bulges to place in the bag, as he’d spent too much on the bag and could no longer afford the camera. A travel sized Pringles can was working well in bathroom mirror testing.

What page was this? Page 27 of… 100?? Ugh. Hans decided that maybe he could slip in a couple flips of two pages at a time so he could move to the next book. He thought perhaps he could make a mug book app, where people could flip through mug shots on the phone.  He’d call it Offendr.

“HA!”

“Something funny Mr. Leifson?” Officer Sheriff set down his coffee on the metal desk where Hans was sitting. He resumed the paperwork he’d started when Hans had arrived.

“I just came up with a funny app.” Hans had a crooked smile; at least one side of it was smug, “for mug shots. Books.” he added, “A mug book app.” Hans could see that Officer Sheriff was not an early adopter type for technology by his complete lack of response and let it go.

Scanning… scanning… scanning… it was a feast of dereliction that was for sure. Killer, murderer, deranged, drug dealer, drug taker. He wondered if they knew each other. Flip. His eyes scan from the first image to the second and he stopped. Frozen in his seat, he studied the face in the image and tried to make sense of it by saying, “Huh.” as he scanned the face. Its nose, eyes, the mole under its eye.

“Find something?” Officer Sheriff looked up from his paper work; he seemed excited to have a possibility that he could stop what he was doing and peered at the book in front of Hans, who promptly slammed it shut.

“Uh, no, sorry my mistake.” Hans lied, “I thought it was my dog’s… previous owner?”

Officer Sheriff stared for a moment before Hans continued, “May I have that cup of coffee now? Sorry.” Hans succeeded at not smiling normally and regardless of the fact that Hans was a terrible liar, Officer Sheriff got up with a sigh and left the room. Once Hans was satisfied he was alone, he returned to the mug book in front of him. He looked closely, his finger traced the outline of the shoulder, head and shoulder again.

It was him. I mean me! It’s me! Or at least it look like me. But no, look at that mole, what are the chances?

Having a great idea, Hans pulled out his phone, taps the camera and flips it for selfie mode, just in case he was having a Changing Places or Freaky Friday body swap moment and he was currently inhabiting his mom or cousin or something. This was quickly ruled out. The image however, was him. And he was him.

Hans slipped the picture out of its sleeve and closed the book.

 

Words a Week: Deuce Ex Adoption

Week 2 of 2 weeks of words!  This one is dark, probably has some psychological triggers and certainly has adult themes and language. I had some problems keeping tense as I like present tense, because it falls out of my mouth better. It also started from a more neutral “they” perspective, but it ended up about her. Time is a tricky thing, and I feel like this would have really been excellent if I’d had a more regimented writing time per day. This is not where I saw it going. But per usual, this was rushed when I could fit it in on lunch breaks…  I still like it.

She placed the baby on the hood of the car and looked down at what she had done. It was late; 3 o’clock in the morning, but it was hard to tell.  Had this been a different time or a different place, she thought they would have taken him home. Chances were, that life would take over and things would work out, even if the odds seemed stacked against them. That is what she told herself before reality set in. Soon considerations had to be made, scenarios played and replayed until the hope withered and died within hearts and the world won. So there they were, looking at the baby on the hood of the car.

“We should name it.” her voice was an exercise in sorrow. Worn and depleted from bringing this child into the world. She smoked her cigarette and considered the life before her. It was tiny and quiet; full from her breast.

“I like Mable.” She took another drag as the baby clasped her finger. It was dark. The nearest street light an anemic witness.

“I don’t care, we need to get rid of it.” coke boy croaked. He was not so contemplative and he stepped away to continue pacing.  In no uncertain terms he had told her his life was over; he’d confided that he wanted nothing to do with this, but he’d help get rid of it. There goes college. Joining a band: gone.  Sure he didn’t know how to play an instrument but now that was gone, too. His dad would kill him.

“Besides, Mable is a cow’s name.” (more…)

Words a Week: Merriam

This is part of my self-development cycle where I push my creative juices out of my body and on to the public stage. It may be good, it may be silly, but it is. Cheers. 

Merriam didn’t want to change. She liked things exactly as they were. Before her was the embodiment of exactly not that. Her hands were white knuckled fists. She shook and she watched. She could barely breathe let alone form a sentence to convey how disappointed she was. Thoughts of violent rage swirled with thoughts of compromise of how she should be tolerant of others but this was hers. Her place, her things and her life. 

So she did what she always did when faced with change. She kept very still. Like a stone or a great tree and she waited for her feelings that bid immediate violent action to subside. Soon the fire was a smolder and soon the smolder a single, cherry red coal of ire; never out completely, but redirected. Never out. (more…)

Kickstarter: Shadow of the Demon Lord

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Viva la Jacques Henri!

One time I met Robert J Schwalb on the sidewalk of Aurora Ave N in Seattle.  Right by Beth’s cafe.  You all know what that means.  He was selling somethin’…

Actually he was testing a game he’d been writing. A game that would make a 1980s housewife quiver with righteous mother grizzly rancor:

Shadow of the Demon Lord.

(more…)

Premature Dissemination

The problem with writing, for myself anyway, is that I often can’t think worthy or writing about. Most of my Facebook stuff is fluff or reactionary. Maybe someone said something silly about vaccines or politics or race or religion. Pleading or yelling at someone that they are, or I am not, drinking the Kool-Aid of whatever philosophy they, or I, subscribe to. And by Kool-Aid we mean bullshit. We really think that the other person is delusional and worthy of suspicion of motive and if not motive, they are stupid for falling for it at the very least.  This goes both ways. I am surprised that I have friends with alternate philosophies at all.  But I try to remain civil. So what does this have to do with writing? (more…)

Jarvis Blankenship and the First Law of Thermodynamics

I wrote this as a class paper in creative writing.  The constraints were pretty rough: Less than x words, had to be human, had to be one scene, contemporary, etc. I like it though, and it serves as a jumping on point for the children’s book I’d like to write. I challenged myself by making it present tense.

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can’t be created or destroyed, but it can be changed. The law forms the basis of the principle of conservation of energy.

“Did you know that you could fry people with a flashlight if you were on a spaceship that was travelling at the speed of light and you shined it out the windshield?” The words jumble together, cascading in a parade of nine-year old enthusiasm.  Typical speed for Jarvis Blankenship. But that was the potency of new information, so it had to be shared. Which is why he had run into his sister’s room, red plastic flashlight in hand, turning it on and off at imaginary enemies.

“Why would you need a windshield in space, Jarvis?” his sister answers half heartedly, absently typing on the keyboard of her softly glowing computer. But the fourteen year old always seemed to be typing. “There is no wind in space”, she adds, never looking away from her screen.

Jarvis Blankenship purses his lips. He is of course, aware that there is no wind in space. He is learning all about space in one of his mother’s old books. But a windshield is necessary for this thought experiment and Zerelda is always such a pragmatist. No imagination, which is something you need to answer questions about the world. You need to tell stories to find answers; like the serious subject of what happens to a beam of light if you’re already travelling at the speed of light! Does the light get stuck inside the flash light?  Does it spill out on the floor like syrup? These are important questions. (more…)